A P R I L
Planning a wedding is awful when you don’t know anyone in your city.
Juliet, not for the first time, wishes Carlton were here. He managed to plan his wedding in less than a week, with minimal help from Marlowe, all while balancing atop his caseload - and that’s the kind of efficiency she needs. Shawn is moving in, Gus will be living with them until he can find his own apartment, Chief Vick is still rushing to pull everything together in the new department, and Juliet is tearing her hair out just trying to find a venue.
“We could have it at the Full House house,” Shawn mentions, as she runs this all by him one afternoon. “Have you visited that yet? We need to visit that. Or we could have it on the Golden Gate Bridge - get the minister to stand up on the railing, have the guests packed in the sides so they won’t get hit. It would be very scenic.”
Most of his suggestions are like this - his first idea was having a naked wedding, which she shut down almost immediately. Gus has more ideas of a proper wedding, and she quickly gives him the task of picking flower arrangements for the reception and the soon-to-be hassle of sending out the invitations. He leaps on the opportunity.
They decide on an August date. It’s almost equidistant between their birthdays and isn’t close to any major gift-giving holidays, so it’s unlikely that presents will overlap. Juliet finds a nice place a little closer to Santa Barbara; it’s not as close to the sea as she’d like, but there’s a pool and they have a field where they can hold the ceremony and a sizeable reception area, so she quickly throws a down payment at the place. August 12th is the date they recommend, and she wholeheartedly prints it in her neat handwriting on all the cards.
(Later, she finds that Shawn wrote “Bring your birthday suit” on Carlton’s, and she nearly strangles him.)
She returns from work late one day, exhausted. Gus has retired to his bedroom, but Shawn is still up, watching an old rerun of Santa Barbara. Without a word, she collapses on the couch next to him, and he throws his arm around her shoulder.
“I miss it,” she whispers, as Robin Wright argues with someone on screen. She rests her head on his shoulder, and he gives her arm a squeeze. Gently, he places a kiss on the top of her head and murmurs into her hair, “I always will.”
Despite the fictitious portrayal of the city rubbing them the wrong way, they begin to feel homesick together. Two characters are on a beach - Shawn timidly recalls a memory from Henry’s beach house, and wonders aloud how the Lassiters are faring in their new residence. Juliet mentions Carlton’s favorite bench along the shore, where she’d often find him spending his lunch hour, and shortly they’re laughing over the time McNab sprayed soda all over the other officers eating lunch in the department courtyard, or the man who ran the pretzel stand on the boardwalk outside of the Psych office. Juliet lets her stress from the wedding slowly disappear as they talk, grinning now, discussing the time Carlton had come back from a visit with Marlowe with a broken nose, or when Gus consumed so much sugar he actually passed out.
“So here’s to our grand old city,” Shawn says, miming the motion of swirling a goblet. She quickly picks up her own imaginary glass and clinks it with his, accompanied by a little tink sound effect she supplies. “The murder capitol of the world.”
“Our home,” she adds. “Well, our home away from home. Our old home, but also our forever home.”
He sets down his wine glass and kisses her, and she leans eagerly into it. “Home is wherever you are,” he purrs against her skin, voice low, “but I agree.”
“We should honeymoon there!” she exclaims, louder than she anticipated. Shawn pulls back, raising an eyebrow at her, and she blushes. “Sorry, didn’t mean to ruin the moment. That delivery was terrible.”
“We can work on it,” he promises. “Honeymooning in Santa Barbara?”
“Not all of it.” She takes his hands in hers. “Think about it. We go to Florida or Rome or Scotland or wherever for the first week or so, then head home for the rest of it. We can go to the shelters again, visit with Lily and Carlton and Marlowe, see your dad in action again…”
His eyes are glittering, and she sees the corner of his mouth perk up. Always a good sign. “That sounds like heaven. We can get started on our family of dogs. I’m naming one Starfish.”
“That is...perfectly acceptable,” she relents, and he grins.
“Y’know, I thought Lassie planning his wedding in a week was crazy,” Shawn mentions, leaning back into the sofa, “but I can see why. I can’t stand not being married to you right now.”
When he looks at her, Juliet feels her heart rate pick up. She fiddles with her engagement ring, which they had rescued after three days of investigation. “It’s four months, Shawn. We’ve waited much longer before.”
He smiles. “That’s true. Well, give me some planning to do - I’ll gladly charm the caterer into getting us some smoothies on the menu.”
M A Y
It’s May, and he’s still looking for work.
Unlike Shawn, this in-between feeling makes him anxious. He needs to have a purpose, and while the detective business is steadily catching on in this new atmosphere, his savings can’t keep everything afloat. To stagger everything, he mooches off his neighbor’s Wi-Fi, uses Juliet’s DVR, and is pretty much living off generic brand food and churros courtesy of Shawn.
There are times when he genuinely embraces it. Without regular work hours, his schedule arranges itself - he wakes up when he deems it appropriate, gets some exercise, catches up on some TV shows. It’s Gus time, he decides. He’s spent so long worrying about Shawn and getting with the ladies that it’s time to worry about himself. There’s a few jazz ensembles in the city that are worth paying a few bucks to see, and the local playhouse is active and looking for new talent. He starts up tap dancing again, and for the first time since Rachael left he starts to feel happy.
The illusion is shattered when his parents come to visit.
“This is your place?” Bill asks, looking around the cramped apartment. “The old one was much bigger.”
“I’m within walking distance of Shawn and Juliet,” Gus clarifies, slightly defensively, “and it’s a lot cheaper than you’d think.”
“I’d think so,” he heard Winnie whisper to her husband. “He’s biking everywhere; how bad is this getting?”
He flushes, but as they continue to pretend as if they’re enjoying themselves, he continues to pretend like he’s happy with this arrangement. He’s living more, and that’s a favor he’s never done himself before, but Gus needs structure. But he can’t be a cog again, he knows that. He can’t go back to the daily grind where he’s mildly irritated by what he does, and now that he’s going back to what matters to him, he wants something worthwhile.
But what did he want to do?
His business with Shawn was entirely client-based and couldn’t hold both of their weight, so he gets a job at a bookstore while he pokes around. He can still charm the pants off of any potential customer and he still has that ability to connect with people - perhaps not as well as Shawn, but Shawn is so flippant and eccentric that he can find common ground with almost everyone. Gus is far more grounded , but people tend to like him...provided he doesn’t accidentally say something stupid.
And then it hits him: talent agent.
College was spent singing and dancing, and a good portion of his adult life was all about that too. He might’ve known a guy who wanted to go into this industry back in the day...and it wasn’t like he didn’t know a good portion of the dancers down in Santa Barbara. It would take work, but he had time. A lot of time.
That night, he digs his Blackapella jacket from the boxes from the move. It’s time to get back to his roots.
J U N E
A little known fact: Carlton loves classical music.
The windows of the house are thrown open, and he sits there in his favorite armchair, Johan Strauss playing over the stereo. The air smells like sea salt and summer winds, and combined with the music, he thinks he might fall asleep right there. Lily already has, anyway; bundled up in a blanket, she’s a warm weight in his arms, slumbering peacefully. She’s been sleeping better these days, meaning he and Marlowe slept better these days, meaning the Lassiter house was much more happy as a whole.
He’s alone with the baby that night - Marlowe’s out visiting her brother, a weekly routine. The solitude is a wonderful reprieve. He needs his alone time to recollect his thoughts and recover for the weeks to come, and he doesn’t have a lot of time to do that these days.
Lily sighs in her sleep, and he holds her closer, closing his eyes. The sound of the violins wash over him, and he can actually feel the years of stress built up on his shoulders, his joints. It slowly ebbs away with each bow stroke. This is a feeling he’s missed - in the office, he’s tense. He’s surrounded by officers rushing and hurrying, spreading word of a shootout at the bank or a robbery in the seedy underbelly of the city. Brannigan is just outside his door, whirling through violent cases with McNab; the homicide detectives surround them, discussing poisonings and bludgeonings. Ballistics workers show them fragments of bullets, forensics workers come up with boxes of evidence filled with blood-stained jewelry and murder weapons. And Carlton runs all of this, makes sure the machine churns smoothly and criminals are brought to justice.
And he misses it.
He finds his knees ache if he sits down too long, and when he sees Brannigan and McNab running off to follow a lead, there’s a tugging in his heart that tells him he should be doing that, too. When he runs in the morning, he feels light and free again, but he has no cases to mull over anymore. Visiting the shooting range is just a way to keep his skills sharp and remind him that his gun is not just a decoration - he rarely has to use it these days, and any visits to crime scenes are mostly just to make statements to the press or give Brannigan extra instructions.
He misses the cadence of his feet smacking the pavement as he chases after a criminal, O’Hara’s footsteps adding to the rhythm as she keeps pace with him in her ridiculously high-heeled shoes. He misses the feeling of solving a nigh impossible case, and the satisfaction of throwing it in his outbox to file away as another success. He misses the pancake breaks he’d take with his partner when they had to arise early in the morning to chase a lead, and he misses their short little conversations in the car as they headed to question a witness. Sometimes, he even misses going to court and seeing justice be served after hours of sitting in the too-cold courtroom, shivering despite all the layers of clothes required to look good in a suit.
“It’ll be a few rough months, baby girl,” he whispers to her, as the overture he’s listening into slowly transitions into its lyrical section. “Summer brings a flood of bad guys, and I’ll still be stuck in my office.”
Because summer brings about students trying new things, stealing cars and accidentally exposing drug dealers when purchasing their product. Summer brings a flurry of tourists who inadvertently break laws and park in loading zones. He made more arrests in the summer than he did any other season (besides maybe the Christmas rushes), and now he’s about to experience his first summer as the Chief of Police. He can feel the entire department gearing up for it. Combined with his yearning for the older days, this makes for an entirely too stressed out Carlton Lassiter, who wants nothing more than to spend the next few years in this moment, sitting with his daughter and listening to classical music.
He hears the door open, and as if on cue, Lily stirs. On instinct, he hushes her, and Marlowe pokes her head in the door frame, looking exhausted but happy.
“Carlton?” she whispers, and he turns to smile at her, albeit a little weakly. She reads him like she reads books, however, and notices. “You alright?”
It takes him a moment to reply. “Just thinking,” he says, and knows they’ll talk about it later. “You woke her.”
His wife moves to stand behind his arm chair, and sure enough, Lily’s baby blues are blinking open, looking at her parents curiously. She cracks a smile and babbles a little, and it’s enough to make both of her parents melt.
“Think she’ll be ready to go to her first wedding in two months?” Marlowe asks, as Carlton stands with some difficulty, shifting his daughter in his arms.
“Doubt it,” Carlton grunts. “Spencer is pressing really hard for this naked wedding idea. You saw the invite. I don’t know if I’m ready to expose her to his brand of idiocy just yet.”
She laughs, and accepts Lily into her arms when Carlton asks. “Yeah,” she murmurs, rocking their baby gently in her arms. Lily watches the both of them with wide eyes. “She’ll have to meet him sooner or later, though. He is marrying her godmother, after all.”
Carlton has no reply. They stand their with their daughter for a few moments, grinning, as the sound of Carlton’s music slowly lulls her back to sleep again. And for those few moments, nothing else matters besides his wife and his child and the smell of the salt in the air in the home they all shared together.
J U L Y
Summer classes at the college have started up, and the administration asks him to stay for one more season.
Word had spread about his class; no longer is it just a stupid add-on to an online class, but it's a six-week long course about crime-solving. Henry is slowly becoming a legend at the campus among the students; once a class, he asks a random student a different observational question, and every single person in that room is terrified that it'll be them. It's a powerful feeling.
The pay is good and the fact that he's teaching others makes it all slightly less annoying. Grading papers takes up a huge chunk of his time now, but he finds it somewhat enjoyable. He follows Shawn's advice and only yells medium-loud, and his shirt is tucked in at all times to avoid his belly button showing. It's a pretty great gig, he thinks.
After the first day of the summer course, the students file out in near silence. Henry starts to pack up his briefcase to head home to his new apartment, a sizeable place near the sea where he could still smell the sand and surf. Just as he clicks his briefcase shut, he hears a voice echoing off the walls of the lecture hall.
"This is pretty impressive."
He turns only to see the Chief of Police descending the steps, his hands in his pockets. Henry notes that while his badge is still clipped to his belt, his holster is empty. Lassiter's tie is loosened, the first few buttons of his collared shirt undone.
"Impressive enough to deserve a visit from the Chief himself," Henry notes sarcastically, leaning against his desk and folding his arms. "I've heard your office is pretty impressive itself."
Lassiter shrugs, coming to a halt just in front of his podium. "The office is only as impressive as the man occupying it," is his humble reply. "That interpretation is up to you."
"What are you doing here, Lassiter?" he asks, and as it comes out of his mouth, he realizes how harsh the question sounds. Lassiter barely reacts, instead just shrugging again.
"Came by to see the last member of the old regime," he answers loftily, still admiring Henry's classroom. "We're the only ones down south, if you haven't noticed." His tone is still light, and they both know it's something of a joke - Shawn's absence in his life is as sharp as a knife, and the pictures he sends every day hardly makes up for it. Henry knows Lassiter misses at least Juliet, and they both keep busy to keep their minds off of it.
"It's been a while," Henry admits. "The wedding is soon, though."
"That it is." Lassiter shakes his head. "O'Hara says they're coming down here for part of their honeymoon. Think they'll be impressed with how we're holding up?"
"Honestly, I'll be impressed if they survive that wedding. Juliet's been freaking out, Shawn's been freaking out, and I'm sure Gus has had an aneurysm by now."
Lassiter obliges him a chuckle and something of a smirk, and they examine each other in amicable silence for a while. "How about we go get a beer, Henry?" he asks. "You're footing some of the bill for this wedding, and I know Juliet's not making it cheap."
It's true, and Henry has no doubt that Juliet's kept Lassiter in the loop for all of this. "I can drink to that," he finds himself answering, "but you're going to have to be the one to drive. I might have more than just one. Marlowe's okay with this?"
"She's at some overnight development conference in Sacramento," he informs him, "and Lily's at my sister's. I have an hour until I have to pick her up. We'll have to make this quick."
Henry grunts his agreement. "Alright, an hour with the Chief of Police. I think I can manage that."
"Glad to hear it. Have any problems with going to Clancy's?"
"No, as long as they don't get me to try their Long Island iced tea," Henry grumbles, picking up his briefcase and snatching his jacket from the coat rack. "I'm leaving if they do."
Lassiter grimaces knowingly. "Agreed."
A U G U S T
It's humid when they get married.
The wedding is the color of summer sunshine, the morning sky, and stones of jade. The congregation before them wears these colors like a standard, blending into one crowd of colors that look as if they've been taken straight from an Easter celebration. Shawn stands nervously at the altar, flanked by Gus and Lassiter.
He's wearing a tuxedo, crisp and Washington black, as per tradition, and Juliet is all about tradition. The only thing untraditional about this wedding is that it's not at a church, and instead of a maid of honor, she has a best man - she had insisted that Carlton be the one to stand by her side, since they had missed that chance at his wedding. Shawn had started to jokingly call him the man of honor, and he had let the comment go in one ear and out the other, presumably because Juliet didn't want her soon-to-be husband having a black eye at their wedding.
The SBPD String Quartet had made the journey up north for them, and they're the ones playing the march as Juliet begins to come up the aisle. Iris Vick, their flower girl, precedes her, but Shawn only has eyes for her.
Despite all his attention to everything around him, it all fades when it comes to her. The music becomes a faint buzzing in the back of his mind, and the gasps as they see her all fade away. She's a vision in white, her gown so pure it almost stings to look at. It's trimmed with gold, matching her necklace and earrings and the circlet keeping her veil in place. (Emily Bloom had basically become her wardrobe department; Karen and Marlowe did her makeup, but Emily was adamant on doing everything else. She designed the dress, after all.)
His breath comes short. When she stops in front of him, he finds that his eyes are wet and he's grinning so hard he can't feel his cheeks already. The official part of the ceremony goes by in a blur, but when it comes to vows, he listens to every small thing she says and does - he can hear the nervous vibrato in her voice, yet she speaks so confidently. Every laugh or chuckle makes him flush, and he finds himself entranced.
So entranced, it turns out, that he completely forgets what he's prepared for his vows.
He ran lines with Gus a few times until he memorized it, which hadn't been much of an issue considering he was Shawn Spencer. But as he stands there, he can feel all the eyes watching him and Juliet is so pretty that he doesn't know what to say and he knows Gus is confused and Lassiter is knitting his brow together and, with all this pressure, he does what all Spencers seem to do best - he improvises.
It takes him five minutes to stammer through everything he wants to say, and Juliet knows he's panicking, but he manages to get the crowd to laugh a few times and he thinks they're pretty sweet. "You stole my seat all those years ago," he finishes, "but I never knew you'd steal my heart." He cringes himself at that line, but Juliet laughs appreciatively and a few of her friends in the crowd laugh, so it's not a complete failure. They rush through the rest and exchange "I do"s with finality; at long last, the minister (Father Westley, at Gus' suggestion) says, "You may now kiss the bride", and he pushes her veil back.
Her eyes are the same stormy blue they've always been, but they're twinkling at him, outlined in gold. They match the color of the sky, he thinks, as he leans in to kiss her.
All the kisses they'd ever shared pale in comparison.
As soon as they part, Shawn scoops her up into his arms. She yelps, throwing her arms around his neck and clinging for dear life. When he meets her eyes, though, she's laughing, music to his ears amongst the cheers from the crowd, Gus' the loudest of all. He's about halfway down the aisle when there's a clap of thunder, and out of nowhere the clouds above them pour down a torrent of rain, instantly soaking all of them.
"Shawn!" she shouts, as he springs for the nearest shelter. The crowd follows; they're all standing, sopping, under the porch of the building, and they're torn between grumbling and laughing. The string quartet looks particularly furious, clutching their instruments as close to themselves as possible.
"Well," Juliet says, looking down at her bouquet. "Might as well do it now!" She grins at Shawn, and as soon as the crowd notices what she's doing, they all begin to clamor as she throws it in their direction.
As soon as they're inside, the employees of the venue tell them that the electricity is on the fritz from the storm, so everything is candlelit. Shawn is surprised to find that Juliet, who had been freaking out about every detail of this wedding, is very okay with this.
"Why did I ever expect it to go exactly as planned, anyway?" she asks him, shrugging. "I married you, didn't I?"
They wanted a smaller wedding, so all the guests could've been condensed to a few tables - it's mostly Juliet's family and a few close friends. The toasts are quick; Gus' is the longest, taking precisely nine minutes and no longer. He elicits exactly 3 laughs and 1 "awwh" from the crowd and sits down, beaming. Shawn knows he's been working on this speech for years, and he's gotta say, it didn't disappoint. Carlton is next, and his toast takes less time: "I've already spoken to O'Hara at length about this, so I'll address this to Shawn: Don't fuck this up." He raises his glass of wine to the (somewhat confused) chuckles from the other guests and sits down, where Marlowe promptly punches him in the arm. Henry's is more or less along the same lines, Maddy's is sweet and heartfelt, Maryanne almost cries in hers, and Lloyd's is very uncomfortable.
Nonetheless, they go into dinner with high spirits despite Shawn almost setting his sleeve on fire on one of the candles. The cake is cut and Shawn promptly wipes some of the frosting on her nose, and she returns the flavor, and they finish off the night with fruit smoothies and lots of dancing.
If this is what commitment feels like, he thinks, as they get their groove on to Earth, Wind, and Fire, then maybe I should try it more often. They dance until Juliet's feet ache from the heels, and they leave at promptly midnight, speeding away in Juliet's green buggy with Gus at the helm.
"So, Shawn," she asks him, the cabin of the car oddly quiet compared to the roar of the reception. "Disneyworld first?"
"I wouldn't have it any other way," he answers, giddy from the day they just had. "Just...get me out of this tux first."
From the driver's seat, Gus groans, and Juliet laughs, starting to undo his shirt buttons (he'd gotten rid of the bowtie right before dinner). "Gladly."
"I love you, Mrs. Spencer." He stresses the use of his last name, surprised to find how well it rolled off his tongue.
She kisses him. "And I love you, Mr. O'Hara."